18 posts tagged Zoology
18 posts tagged Zoology
Today the Department of Awesome Camouflage is marveling at this incredible praying mantis who looks more like a collection of sticks and bits of plants than a predatory insect. This exceptionally stealthy mantis belongs to the genus Toxodera, which consists of some of the largest mantids in the world. It was discovered and photographed by Peter Houlihan in Borneo:
Amidst the dense jungles of Borneo lives quite possibly the largest mantis in the world! Yet, despite its size, it remains nearly impossible to find. Late one night, I was collecting insects in the rainforest for my research when I encountered this brilliantly cryptic mantis amongst a swarm of unaware insects. I am still not sure how I spotted it, but it is by far the most impressive mantis I have ever seen.
io9 recently assembled a dazzling collection of photos of awesomely strange and beautiful sea slugs. The name sea slug refers to a diverse group of marine creatures, particularly gastropods and sea snails. They’re found throughout the Earth’s oceans, but they come in so many amazing shapes and colors that we’ve always secretly hoped they’d turn out to be aliens. Some sea slugs use their colorful bodies as camouflage, while others use brilliant coloration as an aposematic signal, a warning to potential predators that they’re poisonous or at least look like they are.
Head over to io9 for plenty more spectacular sea slug photos.
Evolution is a very long and gradual process. We can look back and see how different animals have evolved over time, but there’s no telling how various living organisms will develop in the future, particularly if they start interbreeding in seemingly impossible combinations. Thankfully David Malki !, creator of the awesome webcomic Wondermark, put together this amazing “Zoological Times Table and Spotters’ Identification Guide”. Say goodbye to all that guesswork and hello to a world full of weird and wonderful animal hybrids.
You may think you’re looking at photos of beautiful undersea invertebrates, but these delicate beauties are actually models made of clear, coloured, and painted glass. Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father and son team of master glassmakers (previously featured here), painstakingly created these extraordinary glass models of invertebrate animals (jellyfish, snails, sea anemones, corals, hidroids, starfish, sea-cucumbers, squid, seaslugs and bivalves) from the mid 1800s until the 1930s.
Photographer Guido Mocafico visited the natural history museums which still house collections of the Blaschka’s work, including Harvard University Herbaria, the Corning Museum of Glass/Cornell University, and the Natural History Museums in London and Ireland, in order to create a marvelous series of photographs celebrating these exquisite models. He set the pieces against dark backdrops and carefully lit them to emphasize their different colours and textures.
[via Faith is Torment]
Behold one of the most awesomely tentacular sights ever captured on video. You may think you’re looking at an alien, but this is an extraordinarily rare glimpse of a deep-sea cephalopod known as the Bigfin Squid from the family Magnapinnidae. It was caught on camera in 2007 by a Shell Oil Company ROV at a depth of 2386 meters (roughly 1.5 miles) at the Perdido oil drilling site down in the Gulf of Mexico. This fantastic image is a composite created using the haunting ROV video footage. (Click here to watch the original video.)
Magnapinna squids are one of the deep-sea more ethereal creatures. Little is known of these squid as very few have ever been captured, although over the last decade with the increased usage of remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and submersibles more and more video is emerging of them.
They are unusual in both that the fins are up to 90% of the length of the body, i.e. the mantle, and the ridiculously long length of the arms. The squid often will hold some of the arms at a 90˚ angles from the side of the body.
My, long fingers you have! These awesome elongated digits belong to an Aye-aye, a species of lemur native (like all lemurs) to the island of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.
Aye-ayes are the world’s largest nocturnal primate and they use their spectacularly long middle fingers, not to make equally spectacular rude gestures, but to find food:
The aye-aye taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its forward slanting incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out. This foraging method is called percussive foraging.
The only other animal species known to find food in this way is the striped possum. From an ecological point of view the aye-aye fills the niche of a woodpecker, as it is capable of penetrating wood to extract the invertebrates within.
Head over to Wired to learn lots more about the awesome and unusual aye-aye.
Photos by Ed Louis.
This awesome video from Peru shows a tiny green hummingbird, a female Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis), fast asleep and snoring sweetly. Yep, today we all learned that hummingbirds snore.
Okay, we’ll fess up, she might not actually be snoring (but we like to think so). “The high pitched squeaking sound it is making is likely a cute side-effect of the gaping for oxygen.” This is part of the process of waking up from the state of torpor regularly used by hummingbirds to conserve energy.
And if you’re wondering what sort of container this teensy-weensy creature is sleeping in: “The bird is in a container that is attached to machines that measure how much oxygen the bird is consuming. The noise you are hearing is the hum of the machines in the background (the main one being the FoxBox). The noise is actually a lot more quiet than it seems, for whatever reason my camera picked it up and made it sound a lot louder.” Click here and go to the “about” section to learn more.
If this isn’t the most awesomely cute thing you see today, then you might be dreaming.
[Video and information via forrestertr7]
From the Department of Awesome Animal Anatomy comes this post by astronomy-to-zoology about Woodpecker Tongues.
“The woodpecker’s tongue can extend 2/3 its body length. Its tongue is covered in sticky saliva and barbs all over with an ear (a hearing mechanism) at the end of it. So it can listen to its prey. It detects sound. The tongue is so long that it fits its tongue in its head by wrapping around its brain and around its eye sockets. It can move its head/beak up to 15-16 times per second as it strikes a tree. This is incredibly fast. It creates immense forces, 250 more times than astronauts are subjected to. It is 1,000 G’s. The woodpecker has cartilage around the brain that keeps it from shattering.”
That’s one impressive tongue.
Learning is awesome!
Reblogged from astronomy-to-zoology
This tentacular little cutie might just be a brand new species of octopus. He’s one of 11 potentially new species discovered in July 2010 during a deep-sea expedition conducted by a team of Canadian and Spanish researchers. The team used a remotely operated vehicle (called ROPOS) in the waters off Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast, working at a maximum depth of about 9,800 feet (3,000 meters).
The 20-day expedition aims to uncover relationships between cold-water coral and other bottom-dwelling creatures in a pristine yet “alien” environment, according to the researchers’ blog. “It’s been really spectacular,” Ellen Kenchington, research scientist with the Fisheries Department of Canada—one of the organizations involved in the project—told Canada’s CTV News website. “It’s really changing our perception of the diversity that’s out there. … We’re seeing new species in deeper waters.”
How exciting! So, if this purple cephalopod does turn out to be a previously unknown species, what would you name him?
Photograph courtesy of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography
[via National Geographic]